12 Difference Between Printer And Plotter (With Classification)

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What Is A Printer?

Printer

 A printer is an output device that produces graphics and texts on a physical medium such as paper. A printer draws images and texts on a page with the help of commands given through a computer. Printers are often connected to computers either wirelessly or through the use of USB cable. More importantly, one printer can be connected to many computers allowing all computers to be able to print on that printer.  Today, wireless printing technology makes the task of printing from smart phone, notebook computer or digital camera even easier. Software for printers includes Photoshop and any other image-editing program.

The new generation of printers comes with features such as scanner, copier and fax. They are also able to support memory cards, digital cameras or scanners; and the speed which they work is faster than other devices. Printers can read BMP, PDF and JPG TIFF formats.

Bluetooth and infrared technologies are the two common wireless technologies used in printing. In infrared printing, a printer communicates with a computer or other device using infrared light waves whereas in Bluetooth printing, computer or other device transmits output to a printer through radio waves in Bluetooth.  

There are two types of printers, impact and non-impact printers. Impact printers are printers that work by banging a head or needle against an ink ribbon to make a mark on the paper whereas non-impact printers do not operate by striking a head against a ribbon.  Printers can further be classified depending on the type of technology used in printing. They include:

  • Toner-based printers, they use dry toner as ink, which is fused on paper by hot rollers.
  • A dye-sublimation printer which uses heat to transfer dye to a medium such as a plastic card, paper or canvas.
  • Inkless printer, which works by heating regions of a heat-sensitive paper that create images or text on it.
  • Liquid ink printer which uses liquid ink that is heated into a vapor bubble and then sprayed onto the paper.
  • Solid ink printers, which use thermal transfer technology and solid sticks of color that are wax-like in texture; this ink is melted and sprayed on a rotating oil-coated drum, which passes the image onto the paper.

What You Need To Know About Printers 

  1. A printer is an external (peripheral) hardware output device that takes the electronic data stored on a computer or any other storage device and generates a hard copy of the data.
  2. Printer is a peripheral device in nature and creates a solid copy of the digital data that is represented on the computer screen.
  3. Printers can read BMP, PDF and JPG TIFF formats.
  4. Software for printers includes Photoshop and any other image-editing program.
  5. Printers are less costly when compared to plotters.
  6. A printer provides the output file data in a format such as bitmap or pixels.
  7. Printer produces the data in hardcopy format at a faster speed when compared to a plotter.
  8. Printer can only print a single line at a time.
  9. Printers are mainly used to produce graphics and text on a physical medium such as paper. They are also, mostly used by graphic artists for posters, signs and other professional quality display.
  10. A printer uses a needle or a pen to draw lines and figure on a page.
  11. Printers are resolution dependent, an image produced by a printer (raster image) is enlarged, the size of the pixels simply gets bigger resulting in distortion of the image.
  12. Plotters are incapable of doing broad regions of color, but can draw a number of close lines.
  13. There two main type of printers, they include impact and non impact printers. Printers are also further classified depending on the type of technology used in printing. Examples include Toner-based printers, liquid inkjet printers, solid ink printers, Dye-sublimation printers and inkless printer.

What Is A Plotter?

Plotter

A plotter is a special output device used to produce hard copies of large graphs and designs on paper, such as construction maps, engineering drawings, architectural plans and business charts. The plotter is either a peripheral component that you add to your computer system or a standalone device with its own internal processor. Plotters can read files in the DWG, CDR, Al and other vector formats.

Plotters generally produce continuous lines and in this regard they are made up of an automated pen like instrument and a movable head. Now, as the paper is fed into the plotter the head moves forward and backwards, creating lines that eventually result in designs such as diagrams or blueprints. A plotter also has the capacity of drawing several hundred copies of the same drawing over and over without requiring new commands.

Plotters are most used in drawing designs where proper measurement and precision in diagrams is required.  In this regard, they are commonly used in architectural and engineering fields. In engineering they are used to draw designs of automobiles such as car engines, crank shaft etc, whereas in architecture they are often used to produce building plans and designs. Plotter software includes Adobe Illustrator, Corel, Flexi and CAD.

Plotters come in various forms, the latest form of a plotter is the 3D plotter which does not use a pen like instrument but has several knives arranged together and cut out the piece of material based on the instruction given from a computer. Other common types of plotters include:

  • Drum Plotter. This pen plotter which wraps the paper around a drum with a pin feed attachment.
  • Flatbed Plotter. This is a mechanical drafting device used with many CAD programs for designers.
  • Inkjet Plotter. This type of plotter creates an image by spraying small droplets of ink on to paper.
  • Cutting Plotter. This a large scale cutting device that produces ready-cut mylar or vinyl lettering and graphics.

What You Need To Know About Printer

  1. A plotter is an output device commonly used for computer-aided design applications, to output large vector designs such as architectural blueprints.
  2. The plotter is either a peripheral component that you add to computer system or a standalone device with its own internal processor.
  3. Plotters can read files in the DWG, CDR, Al and other vector formats.
  4. Plotter software includes Adobe Illustrator, Corel, Flexi and CAD.
  5. Plotters are relatively expensive when compared to printers.
  6. A plotter provides the output in a format that is similar to a vector graphic.
  7. Plotter produces the data in hardcopy at a relatively slower rate when compared to a printer.
  8. Plotters can easily draw continuous lines from point-to-point at same time.
  9. Plotters are mainly used in specialized fields such as drawing, architecture and engineering.
  10. In plotters, there is more than one automated pen like instrument that can create designs such as diagrams, blueprints etc.
  11. Usually, plotters are resolution independent, an image produce by a plotter can be enlarged to any size without losing clarity.
  12. There are four main types of plotters; they include Drum plotter, Flatbed plotter, Inkjet plotter and Cutting plotter.

Difference Between Printer And Plotter In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON PRINTER PLOTTER
Description A printer is an external (peripheral) hardware output device that takes the electronic data stored on a computer or any other storage device and generates a hard copy of the data.   A plotter is an output device commonly used for computer-aided design applications, to output large vector designs such as architectural blueprints.  
Nature Of The Device Printer is a peripheral device in nature and creates a solid copy of the digital data that is represented on the computer screen.   The plotter is either a peripheral component that you add to computer system or a standalone device with its own internal processor.  
File Reading Plotters can read files in the DWG, CDR, Al and other vector formats.   Printers can read BMP, PDF and JPG TIFF formats.  
Software Software for printers includes Photoshop and any other image-editing program.   Plotter software includes Adobe Illustrator, Corel, Flexi and CAD.  
Cost Printers are less costly when compared to plotters.   Plotters are relatively expensive when compared to printers.  
Output Data Format A printer provides the output file data in a format such as bitmap or pixels.   A plotter provides the output in a format that is similar to a vector graphic/ image created with lines.  
Output Data Production Rate Printer produces the data in hardcopy format at a faster speed when compared to a plotter.   Plotter produces the data in hardcopy at a relatively slower rate when compared to a printer.  
Line Drawing Printer can only print a single line at a time.   Plotters can easily draw continuous lines from point-to-point at same time.  
Application Printers are mainly used to produce graphics and text on a physical medium such as paper. They are also, mostly used by graphic artists for posters, signs and other professional quality display.     Plotters are mainly used in specialized fields such as drawing, architecture and engineering.  
Pen Like Instrument A printer uses a needle or a pen to draw lines and figure on a page.   In plotters, there is more than one automated pen like instrument that can create designs such as diagrams, blueprints etc.  
Resolution Printers are resolution dependent, an image produced by a printer (raster image) is enlarged, the size of the pixels simply gets bigger resulting in distortion of the image.   Usually, plotters are resolution independent, an image produce by a plotter can be enlarged to any size without losing clarity.  
Types There two main type of printers, they include impact and non impact printers. There are four main types of plotters; they include Drum plotter, Flatbed plotter, Inkjet plotter and Cutting plotter.  

Similarities Between Plotter And printer

  • Both can create high resolution replication artwork.
  • New generation printers and plotters support memory card, digital cameras or scanners.
  • Plotter and printer can both be connected to many computers, allowing all computers to print.
  • They are both peripheral output devices.